Time spent preparing your sprayer for the coming season will prevent aggravation and wasted spray days in the months to come.
But do a COSH* assessment first. This will help you decide the safest way to remove contamination that may be lurking after the last wash-out and choose a safe disposal route for contaminated washings.
Les Cook, Sprayer Specialist with HL Hutchinson of Wisbech, recommends recirculating water with clean-up additives such as All Clear or Tank Cleaner for easier, thorough and speedy tank cleaning.
But he warns of the need to take special care when removing the boom end caps to flush out the boom pipes.
"Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment when decontaminating the sprayer."
The outside of the sprayer is best treated with diluted cleaning agent applied with a knapsack sprayer before hosing it down. Take care to contain the washings.
Nozzle tips and filters not removed at the end of last season should be put in a bucket of water and cleaned carefully.
Once decontaminated, make visual checks of the sprayer – boom fabric, especially hinges and welded joints, along with hydraulic systems, wheels, tyres, pto and pump guards, dampers and suspensions. Lubricate moving parts as necessary. Then inspect the hoses and fixings before running a circulation and spraying test at higher than normal pressure.
Test valves for freedom of action and sealing and check the pressure gauge against a standard.
All filters need examining for holes in the mesh and condition of O-ring or other seals.
Inspect electrical wiring and valves for damage, and electronic monitoring and control gear should be checked for accuracy, as should flow meter and magnet or radar speed sensors, if fitted.
"Diaphragm pumps that have not been stripped for two years should be thoroughly checked and the diaphragms and valve springs replaced," advises Mr Cook. *